Logroño: The Heart of La Rioja

logrono

When you live a short trip away from Spain’s wine country, there’s no excuse not to go (as if you needed one!) And if your mom is visiting you? An even better reason! Logroño, capital of La Rioja, made for the perfect,  slightly wine-soaked, mother-daughter weekend.

Logroño ended up being the ideal introduction to La Rioja. It’s a comfortably sized city that’s super flat, which makes sight-seeing a breeze, especially if you’re sampling the local wine! The center of Logroño is packed with historic plazas, churches, statues…and bar after bar of amazing wine and pinchos that taste like a million bucks, but will only set you back a few euros. Here’s what we got up to in a quick 2-day trip…

Ruta de Pinchos on Calle Laurel

logrono-pincho-street

Calle (del) Laurel is the famous vein that runs through Logroño’s old town. It’s packed to the brim with bars and people and is the core of the local pincho scene.  What sets Calle Laurel apart from, say, La Parte Vieja in San Sebastián, or Pozas in Bilbao is that each bar serves a specialty pincho.

We had stopped earlier at the helpful Logroño Tourism Office where we picked up a booklet featuring the bars and specialty pinchos. There’s also an excellent Calle Laurel website that provides this information as well.

logrono-pinchos

We stopped at Bar Sebas for their famous tortilla de patatas pincho (pictured above). Since I’m a bit of a tortilla snob, I found theirs underwhelming, however the glass of Crianza we sipped on was fabulous. They have a huge wine selection and other pinchos like bacalao en aceite and pimiento relleno de carne.

Our next stop was D.O. Laurel, a bar serving traditional Spanish cuisine with a modern twist. We came for their Solomillo de ternera a la brasa con pimientos rojos y ensalada (pictured above). The tender, juicy cut of beef was impressive, but I quickly washed it down with some more tempranillo and was on my way–there were more pinchos to try!

logrono-best-patatas-bravas

Our last stop was at Bar Gárgonich, which served up that beautiful plate of patatas bravas that you see above. While Bar Jubera is the resident patatas bravas bar on Calle Laurel, we stopped here instead. They actually name their version patatas braviolis because it combines brava sauce and ali-oli; not uncommon, but still delicious. The bar is small, so be prepared to squish up alongside strangers.

Franco-Españolas Winery

La Rioja has no shortage of wineries, and since we 1) didn’t have a car at our disposal, and 2) didn’t want to deal with public transportation during our short stay, Bodegas Franco-Españolas was an easy and convenient choice–it’s located within walking distance from the center of Logroño. We hopped on a wine tour (book ahead!) and explored all of the nooks and crannies of this historic bodega.

bodega-espanolas-logrono

Franco-Españolas has little mystery in its name. It was founded in 1890 as a merger between the French owner and Spanish investors and wine makers.

For a thorough historical read of Bodegas Franco-Españolas, check out this blog post by Richard Jennings.

winery-logrono

wine-cellar-logrono

 The tour itself was a highlight of our trip. The winery is beautiful and the tour was a great way to spend our last morning in Logroño, even if wine at 11am is a bit early. If you want to book a tour for yourself, keep in mind that they’re currently only offered in Spanish, groups can be fairly big, and it only includes one tasting. Since I’ve visited, they’ve added other tours on their website.

For prices and details click here.

Historical Logroño

Logroño’s roots are tumultuous, like most places in Spain. The area was first founded by the Romans, and then bounced between the hands of Gothic tribes, the Moors, and then Navarran and Castilian kings. What does this mean for you? That the center of Logroño is full of historic eye-candy.

ebro-river

moms-visit-2013-96logrono-house

logrono-ebro-river

The Puente de Piedra (stone bridge) that crosses the Ebro river and dates back to the 11th century.

logrono-camino

Logroño is one of the most important stops along the Camino de Santiago, and many pilgrims stay here. You’ll find bits of El Camino throughout Logroño, marked by yellow arrows, or the sign above.

logrono-cathedral logrono-center

 The Cathedral of Santa María la Redonda was built over a Roman temple from the 12th century, and the building dates to the 16th century. All of the churches I went in to in Logroño offer free admission.

The Takeaway

Logroño makes for an ideal gastronomic getaway and introduction to La Rioja. While sampling all of Calle Laurel’s bars would take time, most of Logrono’s main attractions could be easily fit into a 2-day trip.

 Logroño is about an hour and a half from Bilbao and less than 4 hours from Madrid.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the fantastic post Christine. Some of the pictures take totally the essence of Logroño.
    I go very often to Logrono. A couple of recommendations on top of what you mention. If FrancoEspañolas is closed or the visit is full Ontañon winery is also a good option.
    In Laurel there is a tavern called La Tavina that offers an excellent wine list.
    Enjoy!

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